I’ve had time to breathe. Funny, considering I have just started a yoga teacher training at Sacred Sounds Studio where the focus is on how to teach other people to link their body and breath and to understand more about pranna and ujaii breathing and all that other good stuff wrapped up within. But I’ve had time to breathe, now, despite floating forward into more ashtanga classes, decidedly looking like I am in possession of some impressive arm muscle – and a visible ab, if the lighting is right – and making sense of two very filled days and a room full of quite impressive individuals. We’re all there for a reason. Some want to deepen practice, others want to incorporate it into work and still more, myself included, see this as the start of a new career. It’s scary. It’s awesome. It’s a weird intense, curious environment where all yoga all the time happens and then you go out and read and reflect on your own. And take classes. Lots of them. Yet I can’t describe everything because a) then potential teachers might not take a course (ha!) and b) I don’t want to give away my secrets.
However, here are the top moments from the weekend. Enjoy. Laugh. Weep. Know that I know I am doing the right thing, and making that call to change my life was absolutely terrifying but the alternative – a stagnant, static, colorless existence – was unfathomable any longer.
1. We “taught” Surya Namaskar A in the first two hours.
Day one was stuffed with teaching information. I thought this would mean theory. It suddenly meant “practical” as we oh so quickly learned after running through the sequence a couple of times which happens to look a little like this:
Looks easy, yes? If you’ve ever done yoga, you’ve moved through this sequence or a modified version at least once. It’s another thing entirely standing in front of 15 other people, looking at you, waiting, when you’re supposed to tell them how to do this. I had the gift of going very last, but I still sweated like I was possessed, faltered slightly in the middle, but made it through, calmly, and was rather pleased with myself at the end.
We have to memorize this. And the “B” series that includes uttanasana – chair pose – and virbadransa I, warrior I. Needless to say, I have been walking around Astoria muttering “inhale, arms up overhead, exhale fold forward over your legs, inhale…” into some sort of even rhythm for the past few days. Hey, at least I’m in New York.
2. We learned a lot more about how a class is structured.
Think your yoga teacher sits around making cute playlists and dreaming up little sanskrit tortures for the afternoon session? Think again. That teacher wants to show you how to follow these movements and more in a way that won’t harm, tax or confuse the body, while remembering that poses need preparation and counter poses in order to keep energy at the right level and not surprise the poor students. You should not, for instance, fling a seated forward bend right after a standing pose, or whip the class into a trikonasana – triangle pose – frenzy right off the bat. This is not balance, or a seamless transition. And it has to be learned and structured every. Single. Class.
3. Know when to rest
We all taught and ran through as much of one another’s attempts as much as we could. This meant, if you did all surya namaskars, you would have run through 50. Then we took a class. Our instructor’s class. It was not easy. Needless to say, I arrived home in a dazed and hungry state and was NOT eager for more yoga on Sunday. It was time to rest. It was also time to rest during our teaching practice – people listened to themselves and, at least to me, didn’t act like they needed to prove anything but doing every one of the sun salutations. I had to rest and learned a lot by watching. Which was something else our instructor made clear…
4. I know NOTHING about Yoga.
Sorry, it’s been a while since some fantasy or sci fi reference.
Anyway, yes, I have some flexibility. Yes, I feel confident to run through a practice solo, something that has been supported as of late by by ashtanga practice, which is both fascinating, difficult and a bit scary. However, I don’t know anything about teaching a class, about breathing and creating the environment that I want to create – which is still up in the air – and my sanskrit quite honestly, sucks. Sometimes, I don’t know when to observe, in some inner struggle with myself to take that extra class and physically challenge myself again, or let the twinges of OCD kick in to say “well, if I don’t do this now, then I’m going to seize up and forget everything.” But that’s not what yoga is about. That’s not what learning is about. And I am finding a new realm – one I don’t understand yet – in which to find that balance and learn all that I can.
5. I am looking forward to going back.
The days are long. Every other weekend, I have no weekend. It’s not “fun” albeit things are funny, and I don’t get my laundry done, sleep, cook, clean my house and all the other “things” that need to be handled by a single working woman without a Downton Abbey army of staff. However, my brain has woken up in a new way to this learning, this profession, and it just makes sense to me. And I also know that I am doing the right thing.
So yes, there will be epsom salt baths and arnica in my shopping cart. I will opt for delivery, canned beans and frozen vegetables that can be sauteed in a second, while I throw red wine down my throat and fall into bed to start over again. There will be dreams about yoga, days when the very word makes me nauseaous, and lots of weird bruises, comments from people who don’t know what a yoga teacher is or does, and a lot of learning to balance, both figuratively and literally. Yet this is part of a slew of change that came crashing into my life all at once, and, honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
This is part of the next adventure and it’s brilliant, vulnerable, cacophonous and alive.